Wednesday, June 14, 2006
posted by PabloPabla at 1:51 pm

The Dangers of the Rat Race
Anna Aven

When I lived in the city of Los Angeles, the rat race metaphor for life took on a whole new meaning. People everywhere, racing around to get somewhere, to do something. To live in LA is to live in your car a lot of the time. For some unknown reason, no one seems to live near where they work; so mornings and evenings consist of the entire megalopolis switching places in some gigantic game of musical chairs. And if you miss your traffic window, then you are the one left in the wrong place when the music stops.

But we can’t just blame big cities for the rat race; the rat race finds its way to just about every corner of the country. The American dream seems to have solidified into working for the next big thing—not just to survive or to give your kids a better future, but to get a better car, a bigger house, or simply bigger and better things that we’ve been convinced by advertising that we positively cannot live without. So we rush about trying to make more money to get to a better place in life so that we can buy a bigger house and have to make more money to keep it up. And we get sucked into the lie that somehow all of this is what is fulfilling.

The letter of James has something to say about the rat race and striving for riches. James 1:11 says that “the hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements.” It’s been said that we can’t take anything with us, and this verse illustrates that fact. All the stuff that we get here on earth stays here on earth, so if our lives have been spent focused on the things this world cares about, then what we have done will not last.

Our focus then must be on what God cares about. James also says this: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you(1:27). Can riches be an asset to caring for those in distress? Of course it can, but riches can never be an end in itself because it just fades away. If God blesses you with money, then refuse to let the world corrupt you—spend wisely and help those in need. And don’t succumb to the pull of the rat race that would constantly keep us working for the next big achievement in the world’s eyes, because those things are temporary and fade away.
(Taken from The New Living Translation Website)

Are you caught up in the rat race? It's okay but you may be missing the point.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19 - 21 NIV)

Do we not feel all the more insecure the richer we are? The fear that our investments will not reach the targets we set, the fear that our house may be burglared and that our precious items at home will be lost, the fear that the more cash we carry the more we stand to lose in the event of a robbery, etc? It is ironic because the world teaches that the more we have (material gain and political power - in society or organisation), the better our life will be. Yet, I personally believe no one can testify that the more they gain, the more secure they become.

Jesus said "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all this splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'. For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

How much time to we spend with our family members? How much time do we spend with God? Are we managing our gifts (talents, wealth, health, etc) well by contributing it back to our family and society?

Perhaps, it is time for us to reassess our priorities in life.